How can April’s Fools Day take place on March 17? Why not, because this is the Land of the Brave? Everyone has been making reference to the Land of the Brave, a phrase from our national anthem.
While the crafters of the national song were no doubt well-meaning with the Land of the Brave slogan, it looks like the reference has since Independence assumed different negative meanings to make a scathing broadside regarding some unbecoming demeanour or conduct by a public official or any other persona.
These references have been detracting from the essence and meaning of the national anthem’s verse that was meant as a tribute to the resilience of our people, especially during the colonial times against brutal colonial regimes.
Such resilience, one would surely want to believe the crafters of the national anthem had been wishing to be emulated by an independent Namibia, so that her people could be imbued with such in the post-colonial arduous struggle to ensure the wellbeing of the people.
But alas, this has come to mean all kinds of things – even ominous things, like the portentous events of last Friday. Only that it was not the 13th, but the 17th.
On this ominous day the country was awakened by a section of the media announcing that the Namibian government is taking the German government to court over the genocide issue.
Ordinarily, as media people, we must stand together to defend especially the rights of the people, rather than our own rights, to freely express themselves through our respective media channels, because after all that is what meant by freedom of the expression – foremost that of the people.
But the media can at times prove to be the enemy of this desired freedom, especially when engaging in irresponsible reporting. And it is such that we must be each brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, lest the real enemies of the media exploit any potential laxity and unguardedness.
It is shocking how such a story could have passed through the editorial gatekeepers without the necessary circumspection. But this speaks much about the hazards of the journalistic trade in these times.
Reading the article one could not but say, ‘Yes this is perhaps the full meaning of the proverbial Land of the Brave’. It is unconceivable that the Namibian government would be taking the German government to court, while purporting to be engaged in negotiations, which for that matter have not by any indication been deadlocked. Then surely it must have been negotiating in bad faith.
Granted my fellow scribes may have impeccable sources, but according to the Attorney General there was absolutely no evidence or argument on the basis of which to infer that the Namibian government was indeed dragging the German government to court over genocide – unless of course a section of the media may have been in possession of another communication from the Office of the Attorney General.
Even after the fact – this fact indeed being that the Namibian government would not now or ever be any nearer to making the purported U-turn, even while media reports continued harping on such non-facts, with the rest of the international media jumping on the bandwagon.
One cannot but dread the consequences if this could and may have been a matter of life and death. And whether the media in question would come back to retract such misleading reports. One would have to wait and see, but surely this must be the honourable thing to do.
Yes, perhaps to a section of the media the issue at hand may not be a matter of life and death, but the essence is that we are indeed talking about genocide. This is about a people who lost their lives en masse at the hands of the brutal colonial regime of Germany.
The sad thing is that since the erroneous media reports about the purported U-turn by the Namibian government, the matter, especially among the affected communities, has been the talk of the cities, towns and villages, because to those communities this is indeed a matter of cardinal interest.
This notwithstanding, it remains to be seen whether the papers that carried such inaccurate reports, would ever make their own U-turns on such erroneous reporting?
In May, the Namibian media will join the rest of the world in marking World Press Freedom Day. The recent media reports on the matter surely provide, especially to the Namibian media fraternity, good reason for serious and sober reflection and introspection.
This should hopefully culminate in a bold retraction of the erroneous and misleading reportage on the purported U-turn of the Namibian government on issue of genocide and reparations.